Sunday, January 5, 2014

The friendly face of Thailand...

Thailand promotes itself as the land of smiles, and indeed people smiling here a lot. In particular when you are coming from Germany it is obvious. But after living in Thailand for 9 months and being a regular visitor for quite a while, the smiling thing is so so.

As much as not all German people are unfriendly not all Thai people smiling all day. It is also used as a masquerade, or saving face. You can see this when you look someone in the eyes if a smile is honest or just a play.

So, it is of course a stereotype. But sometimes I am surprised in a positive way to see that proved. Like today at the Thalat Nam Bang Nam Phueng, a floating market at the peninsular the Chao Praya rivers forms down south. This is for sure not a tourist place, although some tourists and falangs are seen there. It is quite local. But then you discover more English descriptions on products then in most local shopping malls. We got an amazing service wherever we stopped and asked what kind of food it is, what the name of the fruit is and so on. I always ask in Thai first, but many sellers are kind of proud to answer in (sometimes broken) English.

Our highlight was a beautiful vintage style coffee shop, when a Thai couple introduced us to Miang Kham: They actually offered us some of it they just bought (it is a Thai snack, made of roasted coconut, lime, ginger, shallots, sweet tamarind sauce wrapped in leaves).

Where ever we go at this place, people smile at us, we get a great service and have a good time. A big contrast to what you experience these days in shopping malls, where people get a salary for just being there and checking stock instead of taking care of customers (Seri market in paradise market is one of this place where you never get ask if you want something, they totally ignore you.)

Thalat Rot Fai at Srinakarin road by the way gives you a similar experience with generally good service.

You will see the very unfriendly face soon in downtown Bangkok when the protesters will shut down Bangkok. I predict they will not play nice with anyone who disagrees with them, and showed this already. Some very ugly things will happen, I am pretty sure.

Good to have my little paradise on the peninsula....